Saturday, April 30, 2011


We have begun our "OCEAN UNIT"! It is one of my very favorite things to teach.
Here is just the beginning...

For each unit, I have games and activities of different levels. These are some "math" activities I have available for my kiddos!

During SMART Community each morning, a new thematic vocabulary word is introduced. It is a perfect opportunity to integrate subjects while focusing on literacy. I have taught "Vocabulary Word of the Day" for several years. It has allowed each of my students to build unique and well-defined vocabulary. It is amazing! Here is our strip for this week... we spent Friday at the zoo so we only had 4 words this week! At first, some early childhood teachers are surprised at our vocabulary words. I strongly believe in challenging my students and providing activities that are multi-level so that every student is successful. The depth of knowledge is incredible and their love for learning is off the charts. :)

Caitlin's FAVORITE activitiy each week is our "Vocabulary Strip". Can't you tell? :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Dream Came True!!!!!

Welcome to Our SMART Community blog! This is just the beginning! I plan to post about teaching units and share ideas here. However... our first BIG announcement is that Kelly and I were awarded a HUGE Fund For Teachers Grant to travel to London, Paris and Munich this summer for 17 days! Our adventure was fully funded for $10,000. I can't begin to tell you how much we will learn and grow. Expect lots of ideas to come from our experiences in Europe. I have big dreams for this life and I am so, so thankful to have an organization like Fund For Teachers who believes in them with me! WOOT! Yes, of course, I will be blogging our trip! We leave for London on June 28th! Stay Tuned for teaching ideas...they are coming soon!

When I took this picture, I was in Vegas at the I Teach K conference. I looked at Kelly and said, "Next time, we will see the real one!" Dreams DO come true!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How we "grew" into Our SMART Community

Once upon a time, there were two teachers who became close friends after running several 5Ks and an 1/2 marathon together. They grew and grew in their friendship and then rose to a new level of friendship. It was their deep commitment to their faith that "grew" their friendship into sisterhood. Kelly is one of those rare friends who always chooses to be forth-coming, honest and communicates without reservation regardless of the topic. She encourages me to grow in areas that others would never see as "points of talents and interests" in me. She makes me a better teacher because she challenges me daily to push myself to learn more and teach more dynamically. Over the last 6 years (but more intensely the last 3), my teaching has changed so much. I have changed, added, redesigned, created and molded myself into a collaborative co-teacher who never stops thinking of how WE, together, can do it better for kids. Teaching is our passion and when you combine that with friendship, creativity and constant have Our SMART Community! We are so excited to see what we will develop and implement next. It is our thirst for greatness that always keeps us moving!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Together We Can

I have been thinking about how to explain the power of collaboration from a teaching/learning perspective. I hope I can convey my most passionate feelings about it! I am ecstatic that the "bigwigs" in education are now looking at research about the benefits (to teachers, students and parents) when rich collaboration between educational professionals takes place. Collaboration is NOT just planning together, it really isn't. I always thought that when you plan with a team of teachers, you have similar goals and expectations that it was true and meaningful collaboration but really that is PLANNING. The dictionary says collaboration is "the act of working together on a joint project". Hum... working together is a greater aspiration than planning because it involves the work (mentally, creatively, physically and sometimes spiritually) done together. I don't think I ever really got that before this school year. I always said I collaborated when I sent copies for other people. Um...that is just sending copies, not digging deeply into "How could we do this better, more successfully, more creatively and in a more meaningful way???". Before you can collaborate, you have to self-reflect...deeply and critically. Collaboration is an amazing thing when it is two or more people digging deeply into their thoughts, explaining their goals and why the goals are important. It is being willing to concede when another's idea is better than yours. It is offering all you have for the common goal(s) set. It is planning, prepping and executing the plan together completely. It can be time consuming and involves personal sacrifice. I now understand what collaboration is and I will never want to teach any other way. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be part of a SMART COMMUNITY where I feel like a co-teacher who is valued, respected and appreciated. Collaboration is giving as much as you are given. Collaboration is my newest passion!